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Caring for summer knitsThe following is a guest post from Deby, a regular reader of this blog, who is sharing some tips and strategies for caring for your summer knits. Fascinated by fashion since early childhood, as the granddaughter of a seamstress, Deby grew up learning about fabrics and sewing techniques. Today Deby works full-time in marketing as a visual communicator/writer, with an active interest in the fashion trends that influence us and how we can enjoy them to our benefit!

Living in a humid Midwestern climate, where the temperatures arrive in the 90’s by June and stay there well through September, I have come to love knits over any other type of fabric for summer. I have a professional position within my company, but I primarily work at home as a telecommuter, with forays out for meetings, lunches, and face time with my coworkers. Although I can dress as casually as I want at home, I always choose to dress professionally on a work day. I’ve come to learn that you never predict what might happen or who you will meet in the course of a day, so you need to look presentable, and knits fit the bill by combining comfort with good looks.

Knits are Easy to Care For and Look Great!

Despite their sometimes daunting appearance, today’s knits are surprisingly easy to care for once you master a few simple techniques. At first I was apprehensive about some of the newer knits I’m about to describe here, but I’ve learned they are laundry-friendly and can look great for several summers with the proper care.

When the temperature climbs, nothing beats knits for being airy and ventilating, without the downside of wrinkling by midday. For travel, knits are the ultimate packer’s dream—taking up ridiculously little space in your luggage. Plus, they look great after a short time to relax on a hanger once you have reached your destination.

Knit care toolkitSummer knits are beautiful to wear as well. When cut properly, they drape gracefully on the figure, flattering every body type, and skimming over flaws without adding bulk. Knits move as you do, and combined with interesting accessories, they impart a relaxed yet polished look that makes a positive impression in most social and work environments.

Rayon Polyester Ponte

This sturdy 4-season fabric is a wardrobe workhorse. Ponte is a tightly knit, thicker fabric, often featuring subtle textures, and maintains its shape without bagging—making it a perfect choice for pants, skirts and jackets. It is resistant to pilling and fading, and washes with ease. Most ponte is a bit too heavy to wear for a summer top in most climates.

Ponte knit skirts and pants jackets can be hung conventionally. You should use padded hangers for jackets, making sure the hanger is the right size for the jacket so the shoulder seam lines up at the outer edge of the hanger to prevent stretching. Ponte can be machine washed on a delicate cycle and is best dried flat.

De-pilling before and afterAcetate Rayon

A highly stretchy, crinkly-textured, yet shiny and breathable fabric, acetate rayon contains a percentage of spandex. It drapes fluidly on the body, making it a good choice for a variety of garments. Rayon acetate is available in different weights, from a denser type suitable for dresses, skirts and pants, to a lighter weight found in tops. Some stores feature travel capsules of clothing made from this fabric.

Moderately prone to snagging, these knits are resistant to pilling. Rayon acetates are best stored folded, as they tend to stretch out more than other knits when left on hangers. They can be washed by hand or on a delicate cycle, but do not twist or wring them excessively this can create “wrinkle shadows” on the fabric.

Lightweight Rayon Jersey & Slub Knits

A recent fabrication introduced over the past few years, lightweight rayon jersey has taken the world by storm as a substitute for cotton jersey in a lot of garments. Often mixed with cotton and a touch of spandex, this is a very soft and flowy fabric that is used for tops (especially those with asymmetric hemlines), dresses, and skirts.

A newly popular version of rayon jersey is called “slub knit” which is created by knitting the fabric with a thick/thin yarn, producing an attractive textured surface and giving the fabric a bit more body. You will also see slub knits in cotton or cotton/rayon blends. Another type of rayon jersey is modal, a smooth finely knit fabric with a soft hand that is often mixed with cotton. All rayon jerseys are subject to pilling.

Snag before and afterLinen & Ramie

Linen and ramie knits have been enjoying a huge comeback over the past few summers. These fabrications come in a variety of weights, all of which tend to be of an open construction. Despite their sometimes ephemeral appearance, linen is an extremely sturdy fiber that washes easily. Linen tees give a wonderful sophisticated edge to summer casual and business wear. Linen and ramie can be washed on a delicate cycle, and are best dried flat, shaped in place on a towel. Linen’s texture improves with repeated washings.

Cotton

Everyone is familiar with cotton knits, but newer blends combining cotton with rayon require a different care regimen than your standard 100% cotton or cotton/polyester blends. All forms of cotton knit can be prone to pilling. Most cotton knits, except those containing rayon, can be safely dried in the dryer but may require pressing with steam if curling occurs along hems or necklines.

Polyester Jersey

In the past five years or so, polyester jersey has come a long way in comfort with the use of finely spun microfibers which create a more breathable fabric for warm weather wear. Polyester jersey is seemingly the perfect fabric; it resist pills, stains and fading. It comes in a huge variety of textures—from a matte crepe finish to shiny satin, so it can impersonate a variety of other fabrics while being easy care. Polyester jersey can either be hung to dry or dried on a low setting, and it seldom requires pressing (and only with a cool iron).

Silk

Silk knits are beautiful and cool to wear in summer (as well as being a wonderful insulating fabric for winter). However, both 100% silk and blends are often not very colorfast in laundering, so they are best dry cleaned. While silk is a very strong fiber, smooth knit silks and blends can easily snag and pill with normal wear, so they can require some extra attention to maintain their good looks.

Loose and Crocheted Knits

Transparent layers are on trend, and these airy openwork pieces can add something special to an outfit, in addition to disguising figure flaws—but they are delicate fabrics to wear and care for. Although some can be hand washed and laid flat to dry, dry cleaning may be best to insure the life of your garment, depending on its fabric content. Machine washing is not recommended.



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